Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Chalk it Up to Anti-Tobacco Campaign

    Smoking debates at Seattle University got slightly out of hand last week.

    Students started a tobacco-free campaign last week, and their efforts ended with a chalked-up campus, some unhappy students and a string of Facebook comments. Washington law states that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of any building with any sort of ventilation. Smoking near any building with windows or doors, ergo every building, poses a threat with regards to the exposure to secondhand smoke to everyone in that building. Seattle U’s limit is even further than the state law, as the signage posted around various campus buildings states that there is to be no smoking within 50 feet of building entry.

    Student Antonina Kozlowska has been working with the Health and Wellness Promotion team and several other nursing students to take this limit one step further in attempts to make Seattle U a tobacco-free campus.
    In a previous Spectator issue, Kozlowska said, “Any exposure to secondhand smoke will cause harm to anyone.” This harsh reality, in conjunction with the statistic that says tobacco use kills more than five million people a year, is the reason behind Kozlowska’s efforts in bringing tobacco awareness across campus throughout the month of May.

    The Spectator article “SGSU, Students Seek Tobacco-Free Campus,” prefaces the May 8th chalking incident saying that, “The chalking event will show students, faculty and staff what 50 feet really is.”
    That is precisely what they did. On May 8th students left class to discover massive chalk lettering outlining exactly where the 50-feet limit is.

    Nathan Young, a former smoker and student who joined the Seattle U community this fall, was dismayed upon his initial viewing of the chalk. He expressed this disappointment in an open email titled “An Open Letter to Passive-Aggressive, Chalk-Wielding, Lifestyle-Intolerant Undergrads” to the student body.
    The letter contained messages regarding his view of the chalk and the undergrads. Young references students’ intolerance towards lifestyles other than their own and his annoyance with their mode of expression.

    “[I] felt really offended and disrespected,” Young said. “I didn’t feel that way as a smoker as I recently quit smoking. The fact that they singled out a group of students and [made] them feel unwelcome is really a shame.”

    Young continued to explain that another issue he had with the event was the fact that it not only singled out a group of students among our community, but singled them out as law-breaking smokers.
    “I’ve lived all around the country and nowhere have I seen such a law abiding group of respectful smokers. 90 percent of students do stay outside of that zone,” he said.

    Young was invited to meet with SGSU the same day he sent the email and is now working with them to ensure that smokers’ interests are being represented in light of the potential campus-wide ban.
    Young concluded his statement with his ultimate purpose behind the letter. He explains that the comments that were interpreted as harsh and generalizing were crafted together with the purpose of being provocative.

    “I wanted to create a dialogue among the student body and sometimes the best way to do so is through incitement.”

    Although the comments in the email did incite response, such responses did not result in a forum regarding the issue of smoking, but the perceived offensive nature of the email.

    Undergrad Evan Britton took it upon himself to stick up for his peers with respect to the accusations that were made toward him. Britton responded to Young’s email with a respectful refusal to take responsibility for something he was not apart of.

    Britton was aware of the event prior to May 8th due to a Facebook page, but chose not to participate because of his belief that it was unnecessary.
    “SU has always been an open school, so even if there are students that disapprove [of smoking], there is no need to shove it in their faces,” he said.

    When Britton received the email, however, he was deeply offended by the statements made regarding all undergraduates, when he knew he and several of his peers were not involved in the chalking whatsoever.
    Regardless, each incident-both the chalk and the letter- resulted in an expression of various communities’ rights, which was Young’s ultimate intention.

    “I think that when communities out there feel like their rights are being infringed upon, they should have the opportunity to speak up.”

    Emily may be reached at
    [email protected]

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